You might remember the name Javaris Crittenton, but probably not for his skills on the basketball court. It’s more likely you recall his incident with Gilbert Arenas from 2009 in the Wizards’ locker room that led to both players pulling out their guns.
If you guessed things would go downhill for Crittenton from there (and Arenas for that matter too), then you win. On Wednesday, the once Georgia Tech star was handed down a 23-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to a role in a 2011 murder.
You can read the whole story on ESPN.com, but Crittenton basically pulled an Aaron Hernandez, just much more out of the spotlight. He was a very good young point guard during his time at Georgia Tech, which in turn made him the 19th pick in the draft by the Lakers in 2007. His deal guaranteed him $2.6 million, but Crittenton still joined a gang during his rookie season for what he called “protection.”
That didn’t quite work out for him. Three years later Crittenton was out of the league and famous for waiving guns around in his own locker room. But it got worse to the point that he shot and killed a mother of four while attempting to shoot a gang member who had robbed him days earlier.
Idiotic move by him and he deserves to be in prison. The real question is why the hell is a kid with a bright future and $2.6 million in his pocket deciding to join a gang? He had everything in front of him. All you have to do is keep playing basketball and you could be set for life.
It really comes down to professional sports teams doing their homework, but that’s the easy answer. You can obviously look back at it now and say that guys like Hernandez and Crittenton should never have been given the opportunity. But the counter argument makes sense too — when they’re drafted these kids just have an attitude problem and come from a poor background. Plenty of other pro athletes have the same background and finish their careers with a great success story.
I’m not going to pretend I have an answer like some kind of mentoring program. The reality is that this is probably going to keep happening (very rarely, of course). Unfortunately for Javaris Crittenton, after what we saw from him during his brief stint in the NBA, it seems like everyone saw this coming but him.
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